Acoustics in Healthcare: Achieving LEED Silver Certification for MUSC Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Women’s Pavilion

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  • Engineering Leadership
  • Technology

Subject

Acoustics in Healthcare Facilities

August 27, 2021

When we think of acoustics, many of us tend to imagine auditoriums, theaters, or places of worship. But how does sound affect healthcare environments? 

Imagine recovering from a major illness while highway traffic rattles the patient room or working as a neurosurgeon team performing complex surgery with a constant whirl of air ventilation and noisy pipes. Excessive noise affects both physical and mental well-being, causing a range of health issues including stress, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and disturbed sleep patterns - all counterproductive conditions for a hospital. 

Thoughtful acoustic design promotes patient healing and increases staff efficiency. At Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion in Charleston, South Carolina, we provided acoustic consulting services with architecture partner Perkins & Will and general contractor Robins & Morton.

The Healing Power of Quiet

The design of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and the Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion advances healthcare for children and women in South Carolina and the Low Country region. With a ten-story patient tower, rooftop helipad, and adjacent four-story diagnostic and treatment podium, this facility provides specialized care for high-risk pregnancies, pediatric trauma, delivery care, and other services all within a sensory-friendly setting. 

This project is the first comprehensive inpatient hospital project in South Carolina with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification at any level. In addition, our firm’s recommendations as Acoustical Consultant earned two LEED points for Healthcare Acoustics, without which, this project would not have reached the point total required for overall LEED Silver Certification.

Working in Complex Environments

Ross & Baruzzini Associate Principal Richard Brink, MS, CTS-D, used his 30 years of acoustical consulting and technology design to help bring the $300 million, 650,000 sq-ft project to life. 

 Associate Principal Richard Brink, MS, CTS-D

Designing for acceptable levels of sound creates unique challenges, however final testing for this project presented a one-of-a-kind experience for Brink. 

Under normal circumstances, sound testing is scheduled before opening doors to the public. Due to extenuating circumstances, post-project testing was completed after the hospital was open.

“The hospital was already open when I completed testing,” said Brink. “This was a unique kind of testing environment since the hospital already began seeing patients. In addition to the hospital opening, I also had to work with COVID-19 restrictions at the time. I completed my normal testing around a steady cadence of people since the ER served as the sole point of entry at the time.” 

Brink completed acoustic testing in late 2020. Because of COVID-19 protocols, the hospital limited access to the main ER entryway to better manage visitor flow. 

Despite unusual testing circumstances, the hospital successfully achieved LEED silver status. 

Engineering Holistic Acoustics Design

Ross & Baruzzini collaborates with designers, builders, architects, and owners to improve sound environments for hospitals as well as higher education, research, corporate, and commercial venues. Our full acoustical consulting services include:

•   Mechanical Systems Noise Impact 
•   Architectural Finishes
•   Acoustical Privacy and Intelligibility
•   Partition Selection
•   Vibration Analysis
•   Certification Analysis and Verification including LEED and WELL Building

How can we help your next project? Contact our Acoustics team to learn more and view related healthcare projects here

Photography via Perkins & Will.